Mayor Bill de Blasio is ramping up a political campaign to promote his housing and education priorities, with an eye toward amassing a financial war chest that can compete with well-funded opponents.Mr. de Blasio and his fund-raising team have quietly solicited large contributions in recent weeks from donors in the mayor’s inner circle, according to three people who requested anonymity to describe moves by the administration that were not yet intended to be public.The mayor’s aim, according to these people, is to create an advertising and social media campaign that would buttress his top policy goals, such as securing more state funding for New York City public schools and advancing his affordable housing plan in neighborhoods that are wary of gentrification.Donors are being asked to contribute to a nonprofit fund, the Campaign for One New York, that is operated by political consultants with close ties to Mr. de Blasio. The fund can accept donations that are significantly larger than those allowed within New York City’s strict campaign finance system. Last year, when the fund was also known as UPKNYC, it spent more than $2 million, mostly to promote the mayor’s signature issue of universal prekindergarten.This year’s campaign is still in the planning stages, with many details still to be determined. But ideas on how the fund could complement City Hall’s work have circulated among Mr. de Blasio and his aides for months, according to one of the people with knowledge of the mayor’s discussions.One motivation for the effort, the person said, is to avoid a repeat of one of Mr. de Blasio’s low points from last year, when City Hall was blindsided by charter school advocates who ran a $5 million advertising blitz attacking the mayor.Mr. de Blasio has since conceded that his administration was caught flat-footed. The new fund-raising effort, if successful, would potentially generate millions of dollars that the mayor and his team could use to quickly respond to critics, or to jump-start their own public relations efforts.
If you're a reader of the blog, you know how much time and space I spent screaming about de Blasio's piss-poor response to the charter supporter assault last year.
They ran millions in ads slamming de Blasio, slamming public schools, and promoting charters with nary a pushback from de Blasio or his erstwhile allies (like the UFT.)
While I understand some people will see this as politics as usual, with de Blasio"amassing a financial war chest" from outside supporters to take on opponents, it's unfortunately absolutely necessary when you have the charter school operators and supporters out there ready to drop millions on a moment's notice and run attack ads 24/7.
From my perspective, de Blasio is far from perfect as mayor and there are a whole host of things I wish he would have changed in the school system already.
That said, the specter of an Eva Moskowitz-supported, hedge fundie-backed primary opponent or GOP opponent against de Blasio looms large for 2017, so it makes practical sense for de Blasio to be "amassing a financial war chest" now to handle that potentiality.
Don't think Eva Moskowitz and her backers weren't licking their lips thinking about a weakened de Blasio limping into 2017.
De Blasio's putting together a sophisticated pushback operation now will help with that problem.